Sac State closes $50K graduation bill shortfall


The Golden 1 Center, pictured, is the planned location for Sacramento State’s May 2017 graduation ceremonies. The city, the Sacramento Kings and the university are currently discussing labeling the commencement as a civic event in order to bring down the cost to the school, according to a city official. (Photo by Francisco Medina)

John Ferrannini

Sacramento State will pay for the remaining $50,000 of this year’s graduation expenses through the school’s reserves, according to a spokesperson.

Elisa Smith, the school’s director of news and communications, said Saturday that President Robert Nelsen made the decision. There are about $1.25 million in the Sac State reserves, Smith said, and the school “will need to continue reviewing measures, including working with our partners to manage schedules and costs” to prevent shortfalls in future graduations.

The school revealed on March 14 that there was a $100,000 shortfall between its budget for the ceremonies — which will be held May 19 and 20 at the Golden 1 Center — and the projected cost of $190,595.

About half of the shortfall was a $50,000 fee that the school would have to pay to the Sacramento Kings — a fee that, as a Sacramento Bee editorial pointed out, would not exist if the graduation was designated as one of the nine civic events that the city can hold at the Golden 1 Center under the terms of its contract with the Kings organization.

On March 16, Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen signaled to The State Hornet that he would support such a proposal. Hansen represents the district in which the downtown arena is located.

“There’s no question that this graduation is an important event for our city and should benefit from our agreement with the Golden 1 Center,” Hansen said.

The city, the Kings and the school came to an agreement the following day for the commencement to be reassigned — shaving $50,000 from the school’s shortfall.

Nevertheless, the school will have to reimburse the city for some expenses.

“(Sac State) will have to pay for all out-of-pocket expenses (with no-markup) just as the city or any other user of the arena for a civic event, unless of course, they reach some other agreement with the Kings,” said City Assistant Manager John Dangberg. “Going forward, the city will not be involved in reviewing expenses and/or reimbursements for this event.”

The civic event designation is only for this year’s graduation, and the school has not decided upon a venue going forward, according to Smith.

The school also does not know when it will have the locations of future graduations planned.

Many equivalently-sized California public schools, such as San Diego State and San Francisco State, have dates and locations for their commencements planned years in advance.

Sac State’s graduations prior to 2017 were held at Sleep Train Arena, which is no longer being used for public events.

For this year’s commencement, the school selected Golden 1 after considering other options such as Hornet Stadium, Cal Expo, Raley Field and the Sacramento Convention Center.

President Robert Nelsen said in a campus-wide email that Golden 1 was the best option due to its high capacity, and that hosting at Hornet Stadium would have actually incurred higher costs.